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Parenting Corner - Coping with Exam Stress

Exams are on and it means sleepless nights for students and their parents. Exam performance is taken very seriously as it is an indicator of the academic aptitude of our children.

Students with learning disabilities find the time of exams a bit more challenging than other students due to the medical conditions and symptoms. There is not much difference in the stress and anxiety levels felt by other students and those with learning disabilities or disorders such as autism, ADHD, ADD and more.

With use of special learning methods and some coping ideas, exams can be made a little less stress giving for the children.

Here are some ideas that can be used to help children learn and revise their exam syllabus.

  1. Make notes of the important topics and highlight the crucial parts to make learning easier during exams. Parents can help their children work on the important parts and make notes.

  2. Writing down the notes will help memorise them better.

  3. Parents can help by helping the child prepare a time table that can be followed ahead of the exams. This should be done in consultation with the child.

  4. The time table should clearly mention the time to be given for studying each subject. It should also include breaks and time for relaxing. Parents should help the children follow the time set for each activity.

  5. The preparations for exams should not be left for the last moments and need to be stated a little earlier to ensure that children are able to complete the syllabus without stress.

  6. Children should be asked to do a little reading and writing practice every day to help form a habit and also to allow them to learn the lessons at their own pace.

  7. Ensure that material used for studying is accessible and convenient for the child. These could be large fonts, easy grip pens and pencils, audio- visual aids, pictures or flash cards.

    Dr. Kinjal Chandra, a pediatric occupational therapist says parents must keep the child's interests and abilities in mind.

    "Exam pressure can be too much for children with disorders and disabilities. This can be even more so in case of children who have not received any remedial intervention. It is common for teachers and parents to overlook the learning challenges faced by the children and it negatively affects academic performance. The lack of proper guidance and support also affects the self-esteem of the children and they may lose interest in learning. Early intervention, awareness on the part of parents, educators can make a huge difference in the performance of children." - Dr. Kinjal Chandra, Founder, Pehel Pediatric Therapy Centre.

  8. Every child with a disorder is unique and has variable symptoms and needs. A learning method that works for one child may not work for another. Teaching should be done with this thought in consideration.

  9. Parents, educators need to exercise patience even more during exams as children are under stress and this can aggravate their symptoms.

  10. Find the method that works best for your child, written examples, pictures, oral descriptions, videos or repetitive practice and then use the technique that the child respond to positively.

  11. Parents need to stay positive and also teach children to stay calm and avoid anxiety. An anxious child will not be able to perform well in exams and all the hard work may go wasted.

    We spoke to esteemed psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty who has been working with children for more than three decades.

    Never pressurize the child to cover the entire portion, only focus on main topics and make them fun for the children to learn. When the child comes back home after exam, let him or her relax. Do not worry about the paper that has been done. Pay attention to the comfort of the children and keep them happy. - Dr Harish Shetty, Psychiatrist

    Dr Shetty also advised that children should not be forced to revise just before the exam. Parents should avoid giving last minute advice to the students as it may make them anxious.
  12. Motivate the child to do better by praising them for every small step taken forward. This will boost the self-confidence of the children and encourage them to even better.

  13. Make sure that children are eating healthy and taking full sleep during the exams. A sick and tired child will underperform in tests lose valuable marks.

  14. When sending the child for exams, ensure that he or she is carrying all the required papers, admit card and stationary in the bag.

  15. Pre-check the arrangements expected at the examination room and explain to the children about them. Make sure the facilities needed for the child are available at the exam center.

A little planning and support provided by parents and teachers can help the children go through their exam without any unnecessary stress or anxiety.

Parents need to understand the abilities and limitations of their children and accept them the way they are. Love and affection can make a huge impact on the mind of children and help them overcome barriers.

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